Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tofu Scramble

When I decided to give up meat, I went to the store and bought a bunch of vegetarian foods to experiment with a whole new genre of cooking. It was exciting! ... but I wasn't sure what to think of the squishy white bricks of bean curd in my fridge until I tried a scramble recipe I found online. I've used a ton of variations on that simple recipe for a year now, and it's always come out delicious. This version is flavored with fenugreek, a potent spice that's really growing on me.

Tofu Scramble

1 block firm tofu
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 lb. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp ground savory (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 T. soy sauce

Crumble the tofu into chunks, squeezing out excess water before tossing into a large frying pan on medium-medium high heat. Drizzle oil over the tofu and stir well. (I almost always add oil to a hot pan AFTER I put in the tofu. Tofu is, well, full of water, and it spatters like crazy if you just drop it into hot oil. Ouch!) Stir often, breaking up big chunks into smaller pieces, until the water really starts to cook off and the tofu starts to turn golden. Add onion and garlic and stir until slightly translucent, then add peppers and mushrooms. When the mushrooms are cooked through, sprinkle fenugreek, savory and turmeric over all, add soy sauce and stir well. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, if desired and serve with Earth Balance margarine on whole-grain toast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Black-Eyed Peas with Quinoa

I never had black-eyed peas till I'd lived in the south for over 6 years. A friend made some for our Thanksgiving get-together and made them vegetarian especially for me. After taking home the leftovers and eating them over the next week (there was a lot!) I got hooked. Turns out they're really easy to make, and you can whip up a huge pot of food for under $2.

A second, related story: another friend gifted me with a 25 lb. sack of quinoa that was going unused in her church's foodbank. (This is the south, seems like nobody's even heard of quinoa, much less wants to eat it.) Unfortunately, I am not overly familiar with the seedy little grain-thing myself, so I wasn't really sure what to do with it. It's got an odd flavor that I just couldn't pin down... until I tried those black-eyed peas. It's almost eerie how similar they are.

Yesterday I cooked a huge pot of quinoa so I could have a little with my breakfast, figuring I'd use the rest later to test new recipes. This morning I soaked up a pound of black-eyed peas, cooked them up and served them with a big scoop of quinoa mixed into each bowl. It was great! The flavors complement each other well, and the textures are more interesting than when you use rice as an accompaniment. Makes a really nice, high-protein dish that almost cooks itself.

Black-Eyed Peas with Quinoa

1 lb black-eyed peas, sorted, rinsed, and soaked (they don't take too long to rehydrate, I think mine are usually ready to cook within 4 hours)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed
2 carrots, shredded
3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 vegetable bouillon square
water to cover
season salt to taste


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

You can make your quinoa in advance. It's very simple, just put one part quinoa with two parts water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. I stored mine in the fridge till it was ready to use.

Put your black-eyed peas in a bowl, sort out any rocks or mutant peas and rinse them thoroughly. Cover with cold water and let stand for around 4 hours, till doubled in size. Saute the onion in a teaspoon of vegetable oil until fragrant, add garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft. Add carrots and celery and cook for a couple more minutes. Add peas, bouillon, and just enough water to cover, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes, or until tender. Add your favorite season salt to taste. (I usually put in several good shakes... serving this over unsalted quinoa can dilute the seasoning quite a bit. Plus I love salt.)

Serve over warmed quinoa with green beans and a little nutritional yeast on top, if you like it. Yum!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

French Bread Pizza

This one is easy and delicious. It also lends itself to the addition of cheese, if you're into that sort of thing.

French Bread Pizza

1 loaf french or italian bread
1/2 can crushed pineapple, juice-packed, drained and lightly squeezed
6 large button mushrooms, sliced
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

Pizza sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste
1/4 c water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
dash of powdered rosemary and/or red pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice bread lengthwise into two halves and set on a cookie sheet, cut side up. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside while you prepare your other toppings. Spread sauce on bread (there should be enough for a nice thick layer on both pieces). Sprinkle pineapple over the sauce (it's important that you squeeze out some of the juice so it doesn't make your pizza soggy. Alternately, you could use tidbits or omit pineapple altogether. We like crushed pineapple because it spreads out well and sort of conceals the lack of cheese), followed by mushrooms, olives and artichoke hearts. Bake for 15-20 minutes. It'll be done when the pizza starts to brown nicely around the edges. Cut into chunks and serve with raw tomato slices on top.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Totally Taco Salad

I hate to put up another salad recipe and perpetuate the myth that vegetarians only ever eat salads, but it was really tasty, used up some of my leftover rice, and my kid ate a big bowl of the stuff. That's gotta be a sign!

Totally Taco Salad

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup cooked rice, chilled
1/4 cup salsa
1 T. nutritional yeast (optional)
1 large romaine heart, washed and shredded
1 green onion, thinly sliced
12 tortilla chips, crushed

Cheater Sauce:
2 T. vegan mayonnaise
4 T. taco sauce
dash of garlic powder, onion powder and cumin to taste

Toss the rice, beans, salsa, yeast and sauce together till thoroughly mixed. Stir in lettuce, onion, and crushed chips just before serving. Should feed two adults as a main dish.